With the recent release of “The Jungle Book” by Disney I was intrigue to go back in time a bit to visit some early telling of this great story on film.

You might think that the older a person gets, that they would no longer enjoy the simple feel good films created by Hollywood’s great film makers. But this is not always the case!

I just viewed for the first time the 1997 film “Mowgli and Baloo” Directed by Duncan McLachlan starring Jamie Williams as Mowgli. Jamie was just 10 years old when he shot this film in 1996 and released in 1997.  His fine acting awarded him the “Award of excellence – Most Promising Young Male Newcomer”.  Sadly he did not have many staring roles in film after that performance, but did star in a Television Series called “Safe Harbor”, as Jeff Loring.

While the 1997 film holds true to many of the films of that day like Tarzan, full of actual animal actors, fun loving monkeys, bear, tiger, and the pack of wolves, it was also full of laughs, slapstick, and adventure where nobody is seriously injured.

“You just have to love these older films.”

Jamie Williams Mowgli2

Jamie Williams who is now 30 years old did an incredible job with his portrayal of Mowgli pulling off a most believable characterization of the wild boy raised by wolves.


Now of course we have the newcomer Neel Sethi who played Mowgli in the new 2016 release of the Jungle Book which was delightfully entertaining both on the big screen and on my home theater.

Neel Sethi Mowgli 2016
Neel Sethi wonderfully portrays Mowgli in Disney’s New 2016 version of “The Jungle Book”

I never caught myself comparing the two young actors because each one was extraordinary! I do think it’s uncanny their actual physical resemblance however, and must give credit to the film makers for wading through all the auditions to find just the right boy actor for the role.

I’m not sure who had the greater difficulty with filming. A boy who actually may have had to interface with live snakes, a bear, a wolf, and panther, or a young man who had to use his imagination to interact with animal characters that were physically absent in the shoot.

Watching Neel interact with these imaginary animals using every facial expression that a boy could make truly made this film seem real.  While the digital world created by the genius of Disney deserve much credit for pulling this off it was Neel’s ability to draw the audience into his world that made this movie magical!

Regardless, both films are worth the watch! Two differently spun stories yet both not deviating from the original tale of this innocent lad growing up in the wild with only animals as friends and family.

I loved both of these films and want to encourage you to purchase both for your libraries to share with you children and grandchildren for many years to come.